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Pasta Perfection

BY Brandon Matzek | September 9, 2016 | Feature Features National

Urban Kitchen Group impresses yet again with its newest eatery, cucina SORELLA.
The housemade tagliatelle is prepared with a pistachio pesto, peas, gem lettuce, mint and lime.

Cucina SORELLA is a lively place on a weekend night: crowds bustling by on Adams Avenue; a packed garden patio; the eclectic, open-kitchen restaurant filled with the happy hum of guests chattering and silverware clattering. The newest member of Tracy Borkum’s Urban Kitchen Group (also CUCINA urbana and CUCINA enoteca), cucina SORELLA is a colorful addition to Kensington’s restaurant row.

The eatery, formerly Kensington Grill and then Fish Public, is divided into three different rooms, each comfortable and unique. The front room houses a small boutique filled with a curated mix of home, kitchen and garden wares along with an intimate dining area lined with raised banquettes patterned in black-and-white ikat. Above, a vibrant huddle of hanging macramé planters overflow with cascading foliage. The back room is anchored by a large communal dining table in the center of the space, perfect for large parties or special occasions.

In the middle room, you’ll find a white-topped bar illuminated by ornate chandeliers. This energetic crossroads is a perfect spot to enjoy a crisp Sorella Spritzer along with a plate of cured meats, cheeses and Italian mezza like white-bean hummus or whipped baccala. Behind the bar, you’ll find a window into the open kitchen where chef Daniel Wolinksy (previously with multiple New York staples and Massimo Bottura’s three-Michelin-starred restaurant, Osteria Francescana) is enthusiastically preparing the restaurant’s pasta-focused menu.

To start, you must order the crispy fried squash blossoms stuffed with herbed ricotta. These seasonal delights are paired with a fennel-lime vinaigrette for sharpness and a horseradish gremolata for freshness. The heirloom tomato panzanella is a bright mix of ripe tomato, basil, rich avocado, crunchy torn rye and the most succulent watermelon imaginable. Charred octopus is plated with smoked tomatoes, crispy bits of pepperoni, punchy arugula and a slick of piquillo pepper sauce. Pair these bold primi with one of the many approachable wines selected by Urban Kitchen Group’s regional wine director, Augusto Ferrarese, or a signature cocktail like the Cucumber Blossom—a blend of vodka, elderflower liqueur, cucumber water and lime.

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